Hi, I’ve just done some study of DRC and my lecturer has helped me with a few questions! I am still a little confused between coltan and cobalt. Is coltan in your phones? If so, where is it sourced? How can we be assured that the coltan miners are receiving a fair pay? How safe are the workers collecting the coltan? Is the company paying a fair price and their share of tax to the Congolese government? Thanks, and thank-you for the work you are doing and the word you are spreading!
Good questions! Coltan and Cobalt are two very different materials. Coltan (a combination of Columbite + Tantalum) is for example in little capacitors in the Fairphone - to store energy. Cobalt is used to manufacture battery cells for the Fairphone battery. Coltan or Tantalum in the DRC is mostly found in the eastern Kivu provinces, whereas Cobalt is predominantly in southern province Katanga. For tantalum and the Fairphone 2, we support conflict-free sourcing initiatives in the DRC, meaning we can assure it is not financing conflict and armed groups in the area. However when it comes to a fair pay, safe working conditions, etc., there is a lot to be improved and more work is to be done there. Therefore Fairphone is continuously engaged in discussions with industry players, our supply chain and organisations that work on the ground in the DRC, to steer improvements.